Ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, students at Ivybridge Community College gathered to learn more about this tragic event from a survivor from the period.

History students from Year 9 watched a live link featuring Hedi Argent MBE interviewed by Natasha Kaplinsky, Hedi is a retired social worker, who lived in Austria as a child.

Mrs Argent recalled stories from her childhood – she said that her family was not devoutly religious but she was still, “Brought up to be proud of who I was,” as a Jew.

She recalled the first time when she witnessed antisemitism; a client of her father told him that he would not reimburse him for his services because of his faith.

She also told her audience how she was excluded and made to feel different during her time at school and how other pupils would exclude anyone from their circle of friends if they socialised with her.

Mrs Argent made reference to “conspiracy theories”, “fake news” and “misinformation” as all contributing to the prevalence of anti-Semitism. Students were also given a frank insight into life following the annexation of Austria by Germany, as she recalled being expelled from school, her father being removed from his office, as well as being evicted from the family home, the scariness of Kristallnacht and how the “rest of the world closed to them”.

She also spoke about the difficulty the family encountered obtaining a visa to come to Britain, the criteria they had to meet (including reassurances that they would not be a burden to society and that they would agree to take on domestic jobs) as well as the complications of just travelling to the country.

Meanwhile 14 Year 12 history students attended the 2024 University of Exeter Holocaust Memorial Conference.

This was the eighth such conference, with over 1,200 students from the region attending this time. The conference aims to educate students through testimonies from survivors and their relatives, as well as engaging with academics on the complex nature of the Holocaust through a range of mediums. This year students were asked to consider the purpose and relativity of Holocaust cinema, and to analyse a range of images that documented the lives of victims from within the confines of ghettos.

Ivybridge students led the way in creating and responding to academic discourse, with Amy Bell being recognised for passion for History by Senior Lecturer, Dr Nicholas Terry.